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Chipotle Mexican Grill Carnitas copycat recipe by Todd Wilbur
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Chipotle Mexican Grill Carnitas


Score: 5.00. Votes: 3
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Braised and shredded pork shoulder is a staple of Mexican cuisine that Chipotle prepares with a simple blend of flavors, and a surprising ingredient you may not have expected: juniper berries. Once you track those down (they’re easy to find online), the berries are combined with thyme and bay leaves in a braising liquid that will transform your own pork roast into an easily shreddable thing of beauty in under 3 hours. Then you can use your freshly cloned carnitas on tacos, in burritos, or in a bowl over rice and beans just like they do in the restaurant.

When picking your pork roast, try to find one without too much fat. If your roast has a thick cap of fat on it, trim off the excess. You want some fat in your braising liquid, but if the cap of fat is too thick, it may not fully render down and you’ll get chunks of fat in the shred.

It’s often assumed that the pork butt is from the rear end of the pig, even though cuts from the back region already have a name: ham. The pork butt, also known as a Boston butt, is cut from the other end, the upper shoulder of the pig. It’s called a “butt” because in pre-Revolutionary War New England the roasts were stored and transported in barrels called “butts”, and the confusing name stuck.

This recipe was our #5 most popular in 2020. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes for the year: Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce (#1), Olive Garden Lasagna Classico (#2), King's Hawaiian Original Hawaiian Sweet Rolls (#3), Pei Wei Better Orange Chicken (#4).

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  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4-pound boneless pork butt roast (pork shoulder)
  • ...

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Average rating:

Score: 5.00. Votes: 3
Rating of votes (3)
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Tina Todd
Jan 23, 2021, 10:34

This recipe is delicious. I have made it 2 times. The first time I cooked the meat in the oven. It was tender and flavorful. The second time I followed the preparation instructions but cooked it in my pressure cooker for 2 hours. The meat was so tender and easier to shred but the best part was the distinct flavor that the juniper berries added. I made black beans and the lime rice too. I fed 8 guests for less then the cost of 1 chipotle bowl from the restaurant.

Tom Fox
Jun 8, 2020, 21:18

Made this (my first ever attempt at carnitas) and my son said that it tasted like Chipotle. I guess that means it passed the test. This was very tender and flavorful and made the best mini street tacos with some cilantro and onion. Another great recipe!

I'm Todd Wilbur,
Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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